Friday, January 05, 2007

aLt fILm – JANUARY 2007


…and we’re into the next number, 2007 this time. I hope it’s a great year for you all! But season’s greetings is so last week, so we can go back to normal now and I can tell you about this month’s line-up at alt film! Full details of the listing follow after my ramblings below.

We are screening a number of student films this month, from AFDA, UCT and City Varsity. These range from 1 minute to 26 minutes in length, and covers topics from illegal hopscotch tournaments to relationships.

We will screen more episodes from the HEADWRAP and Healing Power of Nature series too.

“HEADWRAP is a challenging factual series that brings together Cultural Documentary and Reality TV. It’s “Faking it” without the pretence and “Survivor” without the make-believe. It’s more documentary than Reality TV, but draws on the successful elements of Reality TV.”

“Healing Power of Nature’s short films examine the various, eclectic and multi-faceted ways in which different groups of people in South, and southern Africa, are using their contact with, and preservation of, wilderness to reverse the destruction … to heal the wounds of the past.”

Apart from that, we fill in the gaps with music vids, short films from way interesting folk like Jan Svankmayer, manga (remember RoboTec?), and animation.

One further item: If you’ve ever seen any of the amazing Jasper animations, you might want to help Jasper’s creator (Jan C de Wet) to create more of these films, by reading his request:
There's an outfit called Metacafe who pays cash for popular videos, and I've posted 4 of the Jasper clips so far. If I can start to generate some income I'll be able to make more of them which would be great. The threshold to reach is quite high but I'm guessing it's just a matter of getting a high enough ranking to get more visible. So if you have some time it'd be cool if you checked out , viewed the videos and gave them a ranking by clicking on the 5th orange star where it says “your ranking"”.

A big Thank You to our contributors:
Liezel Vermeulen and Plexus Films =>
Levi and the Healing Power of Nature team =>
Rossouw Nel (UCT), Bela Lukac (AFDA), Vincent van der Zee (City Varsity)

Zula Sound Bar at 194 Long Street, Cape Town, South Africa
7-9 pm every Sunday
No cover charge
Cold and warm drinks provided by the bar, and food by restaurant

see u there!
alt film

alt film was established to collect and screen* film being made by creative South Africans today, as well as work that most powerfully incorporates and describes the inevitable evolution of the medium.

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7 January 2007

Usuku Lwam

Director: Bela Lukac (AFDA)
Duration: 12 minutes
(“Usuku lwam” = “my day”)

Tshepo, an unemployed youth, has to travel from Nyanga, a township on the outskirts of the city, to Cape Town for a job interview. Faced with unexpected obstacles along the way, decisions need to be made.

What do you do in a world where money means everything and you have nothing?
The film is a portrayal of some issues that the ‘new’ democratic South Africa has to face, such as crime, unemployment and xenophobia.
Tshepo, being young and black, and statistically the one who should be empowered, is left with two choices. To work, which is hard to come by and probably has little financial reward, or become a tsotsi (gangster), which means going against social norms and ethics.
The gritty feel of the film gives a true reflection of South Africa’s township reality.


Title: Rebirth
Artists: Ntombi Nala and Churchill Madikida
Duration: 25 minutes

Fresh from the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Standard Bank Young Artist for 2006 Churchill Madikida travels to Eshowe in KwaZulu Natal to collaborate with South Africa’s foremost exponent of Zulu beerpot ceramics, Ntombi Nala.
HEADWRAP challenges them to work together on making a pot, from grinding and mixing the clay to firing it on an open fire as well as documenting the process with video.

(More details about the artists at the end of this newsletter)

Manga, animation, shorts, music


14 January 2007

UCT film production class of 2006: Short films

In this session alt film will screen the results of a four week long workshop at UCT, in which the theme of “Dumped” was explored.
Intentionally left open to interpretation, the students expanded on the subject through clever use of the key elements of filmmaking, namely editing, lighting and sound; culminating in the final product.
(These 24 films will be screened in one session, in the order as they appear below.)

Week 1: Editing (Duration: 1 minute per film)
* Ethan Hawke
* 15
* La Hoop
* Lunch
* Puppy Dreams
* The Trumpeter
Week 2 :Lighting (Duration: 1 minute per film)
* Blondes on Blondes
* The Cannibal Bride
* Patricia
* Static
* Sushi Blackout
* Taylor (Part 4)
Week 3: Sound (Duration: 1 minute per film)
* Chopped
* Life at the Water Hole
* Troubled Waters
* Master of the Dancing Shoes
* Tinnitus
* Last Man Standing
Week 4: Final product (Duration: 5-7 minutes per film)
* Claudia Hart
* D-Day
* Ten Percent
* Dumped
* uRepunzel
* Maybe You Can Become His Girlfriend


Title: Carving Into Myths of African Art
Artists: Justice Mokoena and Phillip Rhikotso
Duration: 25 minutes

Justice Mokoena is a young art lecturer at the University of Pretoria School of Teacher Training. Despite wearing a teacher’s robe he is a keen artist and student. The questions in his work relate to identity and the concept of African Art. Justice is challenged to leave his urban reality and travel to the small village of Daniel near Giyani in Limpopo Province to meet and collaborate with master woodcarver Phillip Rhikotso.
Phillip is illiterate and self-taught. His work is a response to the mythology of the Tsonga people and as joint winner of the 2004 Brett Kebble Awards he has proved to be one of the most important commentators on traditional Tsonga woodcarving.
Will Justice’s questions be answered in terms finding a definition for African Art? How will Phillip Rhikotso respond to collaborating with an artist whose work is informed by academic principles? Will they be able to bridge the generation gap?

(More details about the artists at the end of this newsletter)

Manga, animation, shorts, music


21 January 2007

Healing Power of Nature

Title: Bonding with the Beast
Director: Clifford Bestall
Duration: 24 minutes

Craig Bovim is a well-balanced guy. But he has a big chip on his shoulder. Four years ago he was almost killed and eaten by a Great White shark. Now he is the sharks’ greatest supporter, challenging the multi-million Rand shark cage-diving industry, which he sees as having a negative impact on the Great Whites.

Craig thinks the shark cage-diving industry is run by a bunch of macho businessmen. They certainly don’t take kindly to anyone, like Craig, threatening their livelihood. But Craig is intrigued by why people are compelled to get close to Great White sharks, even to touch them. It seems to him that cage-diving is nothing more than the meddling of men and he wants to protect the sharks from it.

As the film progresses, Craig begins to understand the seemingly unconscious human need to be reminded that our true home is amongst the creatures big and small that share the earth with us. Humans need to find ways of understanding that we too are part of the food chain. And Craig, given his experience, understands this better than most.

‘Bonding with the Beasts’ throws light on the extraordinary and unexpected process known as biophilia: the uncanny ability special encounters with nature have to heal us.


Title: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Tang
Artists: Msindisi “The Tiger” Mva and Acty Tang
Duration: 25 minutes

Msindisi “The Tiger” Mva is a Capoeira teacher from the tiny village of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape. His dance crew get together in the town hall three times a week to practice their Brazilian fighting moves.
Acty Tang is a leading member of the First Physical Theater Company, a contemporary dance group from Grahamstown. Acty draws on the obscure form of Japanese “Butoh” dancing for inspiration.
Headwrap challenges Acty to travel to Hamburg and collaborate with the capoeiristas within the space of a single weekend. Can the slick moves and intellectual headspace of urban physical theatre interact with community-oriented dance sport in a rural setting?

(More details about the artists at the end of this newsletter)

Manga, animation, shorts, music


28 January 2007


Director: Vincent van der Zee
Duration: 26 minutes

Syndicates! Manslaughter! Bobby socks!
The harrowing tale of how one man's attempts to uncover Cape Town's underground hopscotch scene ended in tragedy.

Ross, a young paparazzi minded documentary maker, discovers a hidden face of Cape Town. Far from the public eyes, adolescent girls gather under sinister eyes to compete on makeshift hopscotch grids for money. Soon he is caught up in a web of teenage girls, syndicates, police investigation and a relentless pressure to win. Ultimately the pressure has to take its toll of its young victims...

Healing Power of Nature

Title: Prenessa and the Dolphins
Directors: Director: Jane Kennedy & Karin Slater
Duration: 24 minutes

It could be any normal family beach holiday, except for one thing: dolphins. This Durban family are visiting the idyllic beach, Ponta D’Ouro, in Mozambique with more than relaxation in mind. Swimming with the dolphins may cure 11 year old Prenessa, who was left unable to walk or talk after suffering from bronchial pneumonia as a baby.

Her brother Tharschen hopes a good experience with the dolphins will help Prenessa to express herself, “so we can know what she’s thinking and feeling”. But nature has other ideas and the determined family have to pull together as they wrestle with stormy weather, and the possibility that the mystical dolphins may be just out of reach.


Title: Remixing Enjinears
Artists: Remix Dance Company and the Odd Enjinears
Duration: 25 minutes

Remix Dance Company is an acclaimed contemporary dance initiative that brings together disabled and able performers. Remix explores dance that values the honesty of the body and then surprisingly twists these tales and stories in a space to create dance performances of unusual and outstanding perspective.
The Odd Enjinears was founded and is directed by Mark O'Donovan, a qualified Electrical Engineer who later turned to sculpture with emphasis on motion causing repeated sounds. These off music machines reinvent theatre with no text, with a unique blend of sculpture, music, machines and performance.
Headwrap challenges Remix and the Odd Enjinears to bring movement and sound together. Will Remix and the Odd Enjinears be able to create something where man and machine meet?

(More details about the artists at the end of this newsletter)

Manga, animation, shorts, music


HeadWrap artist profiles:


Ntombi Nala makes exquisitely crafted Iphangela and Ingcazi beer pots that represent the continuation of deep-seated cultural traditions. Ntombi lives in a rural area near Eshowe, and comes from a long line of potters. “This is my talent, it’s a gift. I learnt from observing my grandmother making pots”. She constructs very large clay beer pots in traditional shapes of ukhamba and uphiso using classic amansumpa decorative patterns. These take four to six weeks to construct and are fired in a pit. The sheer size of her pots means that risks are taken and Ntombi with her special talent, elevates accomplishment to a level few can reach. Her virtuosity is preserved in the pot to provide timeless enjoyment and admiration. “I would like Churchill to teach me what he is doing. I get a lot of people who film me but I never used a video camera”

Churchill Madikida is the Standard Bank Young Artist for visual art 2006. The award entails a solo exhibition of new work which opens at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June 2006 and travels to major centres throughout South Africa until July 2007. He was born in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape in 1973 and now lives and works in Johannesburg, where he was until recently Collections Curator at Constitution Hill, leaving his post to work full-time as an artist. His work frequently explores the contemporary implications of Xhosa traditions, particularly the initiation ritual of circumcision, in media including video, photography and live performance. “If something affects me I then work it out through my work. My sister died of HIV/AIDS and I then made a video to talk about my feelings.” Mama Nala and Churchill agree to make the pot with the symbols of HIV/AIDS in order to increase awareness around the epidemic, putting faces and AIDS ribbons around the pot. Mama Nala is upset by the rate at which the young people of her community are dying because of HIV/AIDS. “Every week we are burying our own children”.

Churchill is worried about teaching Mama Nala how to use the camera since she won’t have access to the video camera after he leaves and she won’t be able to charge the batteries since she doesn’t have electricity. Building a clay pot from scratch is very challenging but soon Mama starts to call Churchill “Shesile” – “the fast one”. Mama then also teaches Churchill how to fire the pot on the open fire when it is completed.

Carving Into Myths of African Art

Justice Mokoena is not who he seems: His cool laidback dread-locked appearance fronts the questioning mind of an artist searching for answers around his ancestral background and identity. Originally from the Duiwelskloof area of the Limpopo province, Justice grew up with his grandmother in a township near Pretoria. His personal quest for identity has left him wanting to learn more about the history of his people, the XiTsonga. “Our president tells us we must record our history, but where must we learn it, where are the books?” he says. He is a sassed, media-literate urban youth: “People say, ‘why don’t you do African art’, what is African Art – a painting of three huts on a hill? I’ve never stayed in one of those huts, I live in a township, I don’t relate to that.” Justice is hoping to find answers about his history by collaborating with the 2004 Brett Kebble Art Award Winner Phillip Rhikotso. “I’m like a tree growing in a rock. I have no roots. Meeting Phillip will be like the ground for me. I don’t know enough about the mythology of my own culture.”

The fantastical sculptures of master woodcarver Phillip Rikhotso give form to the creatures that he sees in his dreams. The sculptures of human forms have bird-like features, men with big heads and eyes or the creatures with immense teeth are deeply rooted in Tsonga mythology. The execution of these creatures is done in a modern and thought-provoking style. Phillip feels the gap between traditional art and contemporary art forms is not that vast: “I welcome working with a young person from a contemporary age so that we can learn from each other. Before I won the Brett Kebble Award I was very poor and desperate. I was so desperate that I would sell a very good piece of work for 25 rand. After winning the award I feel good and I look after my family and I don’t want to be poor again. It has also given me the freedom to make more work and explore the stories of the Tsonga”.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Tang

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art which features slow playful fighting movements and a strong acrobatic style accompanied by music, initially developed by African slaves taken to South America in the colonial period between the 16th and 19th centuries. Beside physical strength and agility, capoeira philosophy emphasises respect, responsibility, cleverness, safety and liberty. The Hamburg Capoeira Group is led by the 23 year old Msindisi Mva, known as Tigres, with the help of the older students. The first time Hamburg saw capoeira was at a demonstration by two visitors in February 2003 and this sparked enough local interest to set up a class. The lessons were held in the old town hall, which after cleaning turned out to be an ideal space to train in. Hamburg in the Eastern Cape is, on first impression, not much more than a scattering of houses and ‘shacks’. It is the last village at the end of a dirt road, and sits on the estuary of the Keiskamma River as it enters the Indian Ocean. Capoeiristas are aware of how much they get out of training, but for the people of Hamburg, who have far fewer alternatives in life, they get more than most. It has become not only a source of sport and exercise, but also a means to greater personal development and sociability. It keeps the young people busy after school, and has opened a door into the wider world.

Acty Tang has been exploring creative and physical theatre expression since he first enrolled in the Drama Department at Rhodes University in 1997 and he is currently working on his Masters thesis. He is a central member of the First Physical Theatre Company based in Grahamstown, a dance company that is recognised as a prime mover in theatre innovation, creative collaboration and artistic education. Nominated for the Daimler Chrysler Award for South African Choreography in 2003, he is considered as one of the country’s most exciting young choreographers and physical performers. Acty’s style is dance-based, but also incorporates elements of avant-garde theatre, performance art and the fragile yet decadent aesthetic of Butoh theatre. Butoh developed in post-war Japan, breaking established dance form rules by giving more space to improvisation. White painted bodies, slow movements, bold head movements and contorted postures are characteristic.

Remixing Enjinears

The Remix Dance Company focuses on the contemporary dance genre, creating dance pieces that promote awareness and recognition of the expressive potential of the body. Since 2000 they have explored means of expression by a diversity of bodies in the core company, they also run children and adult education classes as well as teacher training. In 2002, Remix won the prestigious Arts and Culture Trust Award: Cultural Development Project of the Year for its education and performance work. Remix has welcomed many theatre practitioners into the project since this time who have brought with them skills in physical theatre, mime, puppetry and voice work which has broadened the depth of knowledge and exploration within Remix's work. Remix creates performances that are intriguing and intelligent. Wherever possible, Remix seeks to bring awareness and recognition to the expressive potential of the body. “I feel free in the wheel chair. At Remix anyone with talent can dance no matter what body they have.” says dancer Malcolm Black.

The Odd Enjinears was founded and is directed by Mark O'Donovan, a qualified Electrical Engineer who later turned to sculpture with an emphasis on motion which causes repeated sounds. Their work defies categorization and pushes audiences to stretch their imaginations and explore conceptually provocative work. Using musical machines, sculptures that vibrate and sing, the Enjinears approach technology with the sensibility of playful artists, musicians who are not creatively bound to limited musical notes and chords. The outcome is the creation of different sounds juxtaposed to the mechanics that echoes and vibrates integrating man and machine. Their defiance of definition or categorization, the Odd Enjinears make striking productions with curious technology. They reinvent theatre using no words, with a unique blend of sculpture, music, machines and performance. The performances are visually rich, conceptually provocative and in a word, unique.